3 out of 5 stars (average)
I didn’t play with Barbie dolls much when I was a kid, but I had boxes and boxes of toys. I spent many hours acting out little adventures with them, all organized into small boxes so I could mix and match if I wanted. To this day, most of those toys are in my parents’ attic, and while I don’t play with them anymore, I still have fond memories of doing so. Barbie Nation is an intriguing documentary that follows adults who still find unique things to do with their Barbies and provides insight from Mattel co-creator Ruth Handler about her creation’s success in pop culture. It’s a fascinating look into the world of Barbie that gave me a new appreciation for a toy I hadn’t thought about in years.
Through multiple interviews and convention footage, we learn how the world-famous Barbie doll came to be, the challenges it faced in the public, and see the passion of its creator Ruth Handler. Along with that, we also get interviews with several Barbie owners and collectors who share their love of Barbie in unique ways. Regardless of who they are, all of them are united by their love of one iconic doll.
Barbie Nation covers a surprising amount of ground in its brisk 56-minute runtime. I’d never looked into Barbie’s creation or the individuals who brought her to life, so hearing Ruth Handler discuss her desire to create a mature doll that kids could play and grow up with was quite interesting. She touches on her struggles in the male-dominated business world, the laughable controversy stoked up about Barbie from parents over the years, and her feelings on Barbie now being a global icon.
The film also highlights the universal nature of Barbie, interviewing collectors of various genders, races, and sexualities about what the doll means to them. Everyone has a different use for Barbie, whether it be placing her in risqué poses, being used in art pieces at Barbie conventions, or just collecting as many as possible. This should make a good companion piece to the Barbie film for adult fans, just be prepared to see some weird stuff. Barbie Nation celebrates the impact of its titular doll and the person who created her, inviting all of us to party with whatever strikes our fancy. See it.
This Film is Not Rated